Opinion: Legislators risk economic unrest with budget cuts

Posted on Apr 10 2017 - 8:00am by Francisco Hernandez

Even as an international student, I am neither blind nor deaf to the structural problems of the state of Mississippi.

Poverty, unemployment, obesity, other health issues and low education levels (all very unequally distributed among races) are great challenges for progress in this state.

With funding cuts for education and healthcare, it seems that Mississippi’s political leaders have no interest in repairing the deficiencies and inequalities in the Magnolia State.

In my view, there is one main reason to explain this situation: The leaders of one of the poorest states in the country are only interested in representing the rich minority.

As reported by The Associated Press, estimates show that tax cuts implemented since 2012 will drop revenues for the state by $350 million next year. Meanwhile, this year’s budget was cut by more than $170 million to offset losses.

Although I am by no means an expert in fiscal policy, it seems to me that the combination of tax cuts and budget cuts is directed at preserving the wealth of a few individuals at the expense of the majority of the state.

Before you label me as Bernie-loving socialist, think about the deep effects that cuts in education and healthcare (UMMC also suffered a $32.7 million cut) might have for a state with shortcomings in those two same issues.

Also think about who is going to be affected more severely by these policies. The rich, who proportionally benefit more from tax cuts and are less affected by rising tuition and healthcare costs, will be better off.

The poor, who are disproportionally non-white, will benefit less from tax cuts and will suffer more from higher costs.

In carrying on with these measures, I think Mississippi’s representatives are heading toward a very dangerous scenario. More inequality, both among income levels and among races, can lead to social unrest.

No one likes to see another group of people unjustly benefiting from an unfair system, and that can lead to unrest and discontent in a society.

This formula will also have negative effects for the economy. Lower education levels will reduce the skills of workers, who must adapt to the challenges of mechanization and globalization by actually increasing their education levels.

There was a time when many college students were considered social agitators because of the unrest their protests allegedly brought. Unfortunately, many of Mississippi’s social agitators of today might prove to be in the State Capitol

Francisco Hernandez is a junior international studies major from Valencia, Spain.